‘The Bird in the Herd’ Resources

It’s Poetry Friday again – and I’ve woken to a slightly drizzling day, so that’s a beautiful thing. Though I’d have liked it to hang around longer!

🐛🦢🐮🐶🐴🤠🌪🚙

I’m delighted to share some fabulous resources to accompany ‘The Bird in the Herd’. As with all my books, you’ll find links on the relevant dropdown under the ‘Books’ tab, above – and they’re on the UQP website. There’s Teachers’ Notes – which are wonderful. (I’m constantly impressed with the quality of UQP’s teacher notes!) And for an extra little bit of fun, Renée and I worked with UQP to put together an Activity Pack, which has turned into a DIY party-pack for a Bird-in-the-Herd-themed party. You’ll find ‘Pin the Bird on the Herd’, rhyming memory, finger puppets,  droving dominoes, five fun facts about cows, some fabulous colouring spreads and MORE! So much fun! (Click the relevant picture to go direct to the resource.)

Last night I took part in Romancing the Stars, an online event across Australia – and Singapore, thanks to Book Links, and the amazing kidlit advocate, Jenny Stubbs. Five minutes to talk about ‘Up and Down on a Rainy Day’ and ‘The Bird in the Herd’ – and then relax and hear other authors and illustrators share the backstory to their picture books. We are all connected by passion and heart. And Zoom!

 

Zoom-zoom;

time flies

when connected

© Kathryn Apel – All rights reserved

 

Hoping you’ve all been surrounded by poetry, picture books and people who feed your passion. I for sure have been thankful for that, these past two weeks of new-book celebrations.

Heidi is hosting the Poetry Friday round-up this week, at my juicy little universe. I’ll be late to do the rounds, as I have a busy-busy weekend ahead. But I look forward to catching up in review. 

 

Poetry Friday Muster!

Welcome to the Poetry Friday Muster. That’s the Australian term for the American cattle round-up, and it seems appropriate, since I’m sharing my droving book that was published this week.

Look! A herd of cows.

There’s a bird in the herd that stalks as it walks, eating slugs and the bugs that the herd stirred. What else can you see as you follow the cheeky bird?

Bright and playful, this rollicking rhyming picture book with gorgeous sun-soaked illustrations will have little ones hootin’ and a-tootin’!

The Bird in the Herd‘ is the book of patience.

1)  I wrote this story 19 years ago – and I blogged about this on release day. It didn’t actually change much during all that time – mostly tweaks to strengthen the rhyme. The title changed the most! Originally called ‘Muster Mayhem’, it was then called ‘No Cows’ for a number of years – before Linda Mitchell referred to it as ‘A Bird in the Herd’ in a blog comment last year … Funnily enough, about a month after that, my editor questioned ‘No Cows’, and suggested something like ‘A Bird in the Herd’. I cannot imagine why I didn’t think of it myself! But I’m so very grateful Linda and Clair did, because, with the slightest of tweaks, it’s perfect!

2)  I met my illustrator, Renée Treml, 9 years ago, and she has been an absolute treasure to work with!

(Renée had just 3 days from when she read the manuscript to when the illustration competition closed – but she did it! “That’s how much I loved the story❤️,” she says.)

3)  Whilst ‘The Bird in the Herd’ is technically my third published picture book (‘Up and Down on a Rainy Day’ snuck out during December last year) it was in fact one of my first manuscripts, (written more than three years before ‘This is the Mud!’) – and my second picture book acceptance. It was in progress for 5 years. With COVID and potential shipping delays, we sent it to the printers early, so it’s already been in our hot little hands for 5 months!

Patience is a virtue – but it sure does age a body!😂 The book was written for these two little cuties (OK – there are definitely three cuties in that pic!) but alas, those adorable little farm boys only ever had the unillustrated version. This saddens me – but then I remember that, over the years, whenever I read it aloud during a zillion drafts (as you do, because, rhyme) it would draw my youngest from the furtherest reaches of the house, subtly steadily moving closer and closer, until he was pressed up beside me, because the rhythm of the rhyme would catch him every time. This story is woven into the fabric of our family. And one day, these two men might be reading this book to their own children. With pictures!

My friend Kirsty made a comment on Insta about the perseverance and passion invested in this book. I think they’re the two defining traits of a writer! Kirsty’s comment inspired this poem for today. (You will note the grasshopper, above, who also features on every page of the book.)

Renée has two rather adorable graphic novels that are available in America – with very clever titles! Look out for ‘Sherlock Bones and the Natural History Mystery’ and its sequel, ‘Sherlock Bones and the Sea-Creature Feature’.

‘The Bird in the Herd’ is not yet published in America. I’m hoping it wings its way there so you can all see it for yourself. To say I love it is an understatement. It is glorious, from cover to cover. (Click to read some reactions.)

And now, over to you! What has your passion and perseverance produced this week? (Hands up if you’re sneaking in with a lamipofri.😹)

* This post was edited to include the book blurb. 

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

 

Release Day: The Bird in the Herd

The egret has landed!

 

19 years ago, I wrote a story for my two farm boys. It’s been a process steeped in memories;
* bouncing ideas around the kitchen table with my parents and sister,
* conferencing with my two small boys (my first and cutest editors),
* truth-testing countless versions and illustrations with my hubby, and
* always, the subtle arrival of my youngest whenever I read it aloud, because the rhythm of the rhyme would draw him every time.

The text was used as an illustration prompt at the 2012 CYA Competition – and Renee Treml’s simple, colourful illustrations caught my eye. They were perfect for young children, and highlighted the humour in the story. We met at the same conference, and I loved the backstory to Renée’s entry – but that’s her story to tell!🙃 Needless to say, I have loved sharing this process with Renee! And I cannot say enough how much I appreciate the team at CYA Conference. This is the third book I have had published, as a direct result of that conference! If you are serious about writing for children, you must check it out.

Renée and I worked with a wonderful team at UQP, who brought colour to the text, and offered an extended page count that gave each character their own spread, and allowed the story to fully develop its rhythm, so that it mooches along like a herd of cattle. (How appropriate!)

19 years ago, I noticed a bird in the herd that stalked as it walked past my kitchen window – and I’m so glad that white cattle egret gave wings to this story. Gratitude to everyone who has played a part in getting us to today – release day. Fly little book-bird!💕

Lamipofri: Named and Framed

Today I’m sharing a new form of poetry with you. It’s called a lamipofri. 

 

Framed:

heads alert
eyes watchful
they scent the moment,
hold pause –

then resume;

munching,
mooching,
……..mowing;

distant cattle
and a window into
my morning view.

Very rough draft © Kathryn Apel – all rights reserved.

 

By this point you are probably wondering; What is a lamipofri? It’s a poetry snapshot that’s quickly scribed, to give people an insight into the world around you at a given point in time – that point being the last minute as you’re scrambling for a Poetry Friday poem to post! Hence the name: LAst MInute of a POetry FRIday! The trick with the lamipofri is to pause, take a moment to look around and share that moment with others. But don’t take too long, or the moment will pass!

Next week, I’m hosting Poetry Friday right here! (You have no idea how many times I’ve scared myself, thinking the date has passed me by and I’ve missed it!) There will be no lamipofri next week! The really exciting news is that, between now and next Friday, I have a new picture book launching into the world, published by UQP, with vibrant, joyful illustrations by Renée Treml, and I am sooo looking forward to sharing more about that with you. For today, here is the cover, artwork by Renee and design by Jo Hunt.

Isn’t it glorious? Reason to smile, right there!

Almost 19 years after the first draft was penned, I will be as happy as a calf in rain, to share this with the world! (There is no rain in this book – but there is a calf, with a whole lot of sentiment attached!)

Thank-you to Karen at Karen Edmisten* for hosting us today. If anyone else is ever inspired to write a lamipofri, tag me in. (You’re not too late for today.😉)

Introducing Janet Turner

Jan is hosting the Poetry Friday roundup today at Bookseedstudio with the optional theme: Sing!  Does it work that I am singing Janet Turner’s praises? (I’m pretty sure you all know I’d also like to be signing in the rain…💦🙃) Janet Turner is the illustrator of ‘Up and Down on a Rainy Day’, published by the State Library of Queensland. I thought it would be fun to get to know a bit more about Janet, and her work.

Welcome to the blog, Janet. It’s been fabulous sharing the creation and launch of our picture book – your first book! I remember the arrival of my first book. It involved screaming. Lots of it. Can you give us a sneak peek into Janet Turner’s new book moment?

Well, mine is on record, so a little more reserved!! I first saw the finished book while doing an interview. (You can see the interview here.) It was so wonderful to see it full size and in print rather than through an iPad screen! My favourite part was sharing with my loved ones. I didn’t tell my partner Brandon that I’d dedicated the book to him, so it was very special seeing his reaction to that and the book as he’d seen the whole process.

You’ve worked on some other exciting projects prior to ‘Up and Down on a Rainy Day’. Can you tell us about some of them?

I sure have worked on some amazing projects! My favourite would have been while I was still studying at uni having the opportunity to create the visual identity for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Village. This included designing the logo and additional icons that were used for signage, information materials and merchandise across the village! The design took inspiration from the natural beauty of the Gold Coast (and Queensland). Thongs on the beach, a pandanus for rainforest, an Akubra hat for the outback, snorkel and flippers for the reef, a surfboard for the ocean and a sunset.

What was your medium/process illustrating this book?

I create my work digitally using an iPad. The process began by sketching out our main characters (including my favourite – the excitable pup). Once we settled on those, I worked to create small thumbnail sketches to map out the story, then turned them into final sketches. The fun bit came next… adding all the colour and really bringing the story to life!! A lot of inspiration came from my own childhood, growing up on the farm, and some gorgeous photographs from Kat’s farm! Kat and I both had Jack Russells in our lives, Jonty and Buddy, so the pup in the book was a tribute to them.

Have you spent much time on a Queensland farm? Can you share your favourite farming memory?

I haven’t spent much time on a Queensland farm, but I did grow up on a farm just outside of Inverell, inland northern NSW. I have so many fond memories of the farm, most of them spending time with dad feeding stock, fixing leaky dams or hunkering down in the wool while he sheared the sheep. I did love raising poddy lambs though, so that’s probably one of my favourites, especially when they remember you once they are back in the paddock.

What is your favourite thing to do on a rainy day?

Depends on the day… When it’s a cold rainy day, there’s nothing better than curling up in a blanket with a hot chocolate. I’ll most likely be illustrating away! If it’s a summer storm, I love nothing more than watching nature’s light show! I have a particularly good spot to watch them back on the farm on the veranda.

What is your favourite spread in the book – and why is it special to you? 

Argh, they are all so wonderful. I do love the family, dripping wet and muddy, coming home after a long day of fun on the farm. There’s just something special about seeing the family together like that. Honorary mention in the dam spread. There’s so much fun and it always makes me chuckle.

What is one thing you remember from Janet Turner’s first five years?

I’ve always been creative (even at a young age) and there was this one time I may have gone just a little bit overboard. I would have been 3 or 4 and found myself some blue paint. Not only did this paint end up all over me but also our front verandah. Needless to say, my parents weren’t too impressed! I sure had fun though.

Where can we find you online?
You can check out my Instagram @justjanet_creative or visit my website janetturnerdesign.myportfolio.com

Thank-you so much for sharing, Janet – and especially for those adorable photos! It was a lot of fun working on this book with you, and I look forward to seeing what you create next! (I’ve heard that blue verandah’s are making a come back! 😹)

If readers are looking for activities to go with ‘Up and Down on a Rainy Day’, don’t forget to check out the Rainy Day Stuff on my blog, where you’ll find finger puppet templates, a colouring page of the adorable Jack Russell dog Janet mentioned, and much, much more!

Poetry Swap – Thanks Robyn!

Thanks to Tabatha Yeatts‘ Seasonal Poetry Swap, this week I received a parcel in my letterbox from the lovely Robyn Hood Black. What a treat of poetry and gifts it was.

I loved Robyn’s poem, with the clever See Saw title. (It reminds me of a PB that released in Australia last year, ‘I See, I See‘ by Robert Henderson. Definitely worth clicking the link to see it! (I wouldn’t usually link to Amazon – but it has a sample of the inner pages.)) I soon saw that Robyn and I had thought alike when we approached our Poetry Swap this year. I think Margaret Simon is posting my poem to her today – so click across to her blog to see what I mean. (If you visited early, you’ll have blinked and missed it  but it’s there now.😹) AND find the round up for this week’s great Poetry Friday posts! (Thanks for hosting, Margaret!)

But first, enjoy this See Saw, up and down, north and south poem, with Robyn. (And me!🙃)

See Saw

by Robyn Hood Black.
(Shared with permission.)

Winter?

Summer.

Peanut Butter?

Vegemite.

Fiddle?

Didgeridoo.

White-tailed Deer?

Red Kangaroo.

Buddy?

Mate.

Poetry?

Poetry!

 

We speak the same language, Robyn!

I was also delighted by the goodies that Robyn gifted me. After last week’s post, you’re probably not surprised that the Issa translation that resonates best with me is;

first winter rain
the world fills up
with haiku

And I adore the cat bookmark that Robyn found. Complete with cat AND mouse! (And even three fishes.) Savvy Cat took his modelling commission very seriously.

fish and mice
hooked by the
purrrrfect book

Thank-you Robyn. Your poetry parcel was a joy!

Rain Refrains – From Seasons Past

Hello world. It’s a new year – and I’m praying for a deluge to wash the slate clean and fill desperately dry dams. We had 60mm to close-out 2020, which refreshed soul and soil and put a green tint across the land. But numerous dams were bone dry, and our big dam is at a 50+ year record low, so we need a sustained bucketing to impact on their water level.

In years past, January has been a Month of Poetry (and I’m currently wondering how I missed that this year…🤷‍♀️) so for today’s post, I have been scouring my previous MoP collections looking for a build-up of rain refrains. Prepare to be inundated.🌦

All poems are copyright Kathryn Apel, all rights reserved.

——

six-legged scavengers stream
across kitchen benches
flowing to the food

——

croaky croak
of frog with frog
in throat

——

moon shines through clouds
still waters whisper
rain dance

——

Clouds

like an octopus
clouds salty depths,
inky puffs swirl across
a sea of stars
swallowing the moon and
shrouding the shadowy landscape
in a pool of
black

——

Storm Clouds on the Horizon

The neighbours upstairs are throwing
the furniture around,
stomping and tromping
voices rumbling in agitation,
shattering the stifling stillness
of a summer afternoon.
Sparks fly
as they thunder and roar,
shaking the building
with their tempest.

——

rain
tiptoes,
whispers hush;
chirruping frog
gargles droplets as
clouds razzle troops to fall
faster, heavier, louder
until gargling frog
is swallowed in a
crescendo of
pummelling
rain, rain
rain

——

——

mizzling drizzling scene
as nature washes clean;
shower

——

a landscape
in watercolours;
reflection

——

rain trains
streaming past
plane windows

——

if I had time
I could watch
the grass grow

——

still water
trees cast off leaves
and skinny dip

——

⛈ Bring it on! 🌧I’m keen to see our dam like this again (overflowing with abundant birdlife!) – and to celebrate ‘Up and Down on a Rainy Day’ in appropriate style! (Though I am smiling at this lovely review on Reading Time.)

Sylvia is hosting Poetry Friday this week at Poetry for Children. I find myself wondering what poems children will be seeking after the events of this week. Poems of hope? Dark poems that reflect their fears? Poems prompting laughter? Gems of kindness and empathy? Poems of healing? Perhaps they will write their voice for generations and seasons to come.

Up and Down on a Rainy Day – New Book!

This week I was thrilled to celebrate the online release of my second picture book – more than eleven and a half years since my first. (How thankful I am for verse novels in between. And more picture books in progress!)

‘Up and Down on a Rainy Day’ is a simple concept book for the very young, delightfully illustrated by Janet Turner and published by State Library of Queensland in the Stories For Little Queenslanders series. The adorable illustrations capture some of my best memories of rainy day play with our boys.

Stories for Little Queenslanders is a First Five Forever initiative, bringing fun, high-quality picture books full of familiar local places and animals to Queensland kids and their families…stories inspired by people and communities around Queensland. As a teacher, I have seen first-hand how parents who read and interact with their children, set them on a positive path through their schooling. It doesn’t matter how much education parents have had, or what their careers are – if they spend time reading with their kids, it shows! I’m thrilled to have a story selected in this new project that promotes Queensland stories – and the joy (and value!) of reading together during the early years. Cue the warm and snuggly (sometimes wriggly) memories of reading with our farm boys.

The project was birthed during COVID, and was a whirlwind ride to completion. But if there was one thing we needed during COVID it was a creative purpose! I’m thankful to have had this exciting project bubbling away. And to work with such a wonderful team. State Library has created a wealth of content to support the book – and the series. There’s online readings, audio books and digital version to download. There’s even a digital flip-book. As with all my books, I’m collating links in the dropdown tab of this site. Click on Books and scroll down to ‘Up and Down on a Rainy Day‘.

Activity booklet

Click to download.

Books in the series are available in all Queensland Public Libraries and Indigenous Knowledge Centres – and there are very limited hardcover editions available for sale at the State Library Shop.

Today, I’m uploading ‘Play by the Book: Up and Down on a Rainy Day‘ – a booklet with 16 different activities to engage young children and enhance the reading experience of ‘Up and Down on a Rainy Day’. (Think water-play, mud and fun! Also puppets, drama and colour.) These activities have been prepared with the support of Regional Arts Development Fund, Bundaberg Regional Council and Arts Queensland. I am so thankful for their support of creatives at all times, and especially during this difficult year!

2020 has been challenging, but I am incredibly thankful for this project. And I’m so excited to finally be able to share the news! It didn’t rain on the day it arrived in my letterbox. It didn’t rain on launch day. (We had 20mm in a cracker thunderstorm the day before, though.⚡️) When we get our downpour, you can be assured that I will be UP and down, celebrating!😅

This post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted by Buffy Silverman – another kidlit poet who loves getting outdoors. Thanks, Buffy!

ping-pong ping-pong
even frogs
sing in the shower

© Kathryn Apel
🌧
🐸

Fidget Feet Reading and Writing Prompt

Today I’m linking to a reading of my poem ‘Fit as a Fidget’, shared with some of the other happy hoppy contributors to HOP TO IT: POEMS TO GET YOU MOVING compiled by Janet Wang and Sylvia Vardell and published by Pomelo Books.

AND… I thought I’d share a writing prompt to follow it up.

Writing Prompt:

My fidget feet are fab – but there’s
some things feet cannot do.
That’s why it’s really handy to
have fiddle fingers, too!

Do you have fiddle fingers? Wouldn’t it be fun for those fiddle fingers to tap out their own poem? What would they have to say for themselves?

This week’s Poetry Friday is hosted by Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge. Be sure to click back and read Robyn’s hiking poem ‘Trail Ready‘, also included in HOP TO IT! (Robyn has thought of absolutely everything!😅)

Poetry Swap Gifts to Give

Yay for Tabatha Yeatts and Poetry Swaps. With the email option this year, I took part in all five poetry swaps and it has been joy, joy, joy! I do just love the excuse to be creative for a fun purpose – especially when life is busy, as it has been, and any creativity is a chance to breathe and uncoil stress! So thank-you again Tabatha. I appreciate your swaps every time I am involved!

Today I am sharing my collection of gifting.

Between the first and second swap, I took part in an evening online birdie watercolour course with lovely Jess Racklyeft, an Australian illustrator, not because I have any talent; purely as a pep up for me during this trying year. It has pepped me up more than I could have imagined – and it became a fun theme to incorporate watercolour into my poetry swaps.

 

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(The bee-eater was surprisingly difficult to capture! The bird in flight was my second attempt, but seemed to fall a bit flat, so then there was a third…  Lucky Jone scored 2&3 – twice!😹)

Of course, the double-bonus of the Poetry Swap is that you don’t just give, you receive, too. (That is always a delightful surprise, since I’m usually so caught up in the creating/giving!) Thank-you to the wonderful poetry friends who have brightened my days with their words throughout the past months. You can see them in my previous posts.

And because Christie missed out on a watercolour… and as a thank-you to Tabatha and all my gifters, here is a little piece of our farm in one more watercolour poem. The (unnamed) calf that posed for the pic is currently skipping around our house paddock, slurping mother’s milk, but the poem is inspired by memories of my bottle-fed babies, Cocoa and Amber and Dozer. Especially Amber, my beefy-red baby, with the prettiest eyes.

I’m about to head across to catch up with Molly at Nix the Comfort Zone , who has all the links to my lovely PoetryFriday peeps’ posts. See you on the Round-up!